Transhumanism 101 with Natasha Vita-More

Transhumanism is both misunderstood and feared. Ignorant people with an ideological agenda have gone as far as labeling it “the most dangerous idea.” I thought that it is time to bring some basic intellectual clarity on the topic and who is better prepared to help us do that but “the first female philosopher of transhumanism”!?

Dr. Natasha Vita-More has already been a guest on Singularity 1 on 1. Her first interview was both interesting and popular and I very much enjoyed talking to her about her life and work. This time our conversation is more focused on issues strictly related to transhumanism and the basics thereof, so I thought I’d call this episode Transhumanism 101.

During our conversation Natasha covers a wide variety of topics such as: Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein and the effect it had on transhumanism, science fiction and science in general; the negative perception and fear of transhumanism stemming from some more recent publications such as Bill Joy’s Why The Future Doesn’t Need Us and Francis Fukuyama’s Post-Human Future; Natasha’s definition of transhumanism; similarities and differences between transhuman, posthuman and cyborg; critical thinking as one of the basic tenets of transhumanism; important writings such as Max More’s Towards a Futurist Philosophy, Eric Drexler’s Engines of Creation and Carl Sagan’s The Demon-Haunted World; her PhD dissertation on human enhancement and life expansion; some of the reasons that people fear transhumanism and how to turn that around; some of her upcoming projects such as The Transhumanist Reader and H+TV as well as artistic events and conferences that she supports.

One of my favorite quotes that I will take away from this interview with Natasha is her call to “Get creative about the future!”

As always you can listen to or download the audio file above or scroll down and watch the video interview in full.

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Who is Natasha Vita-More?

Natasha Vita-More, PhD is the founder and creative director of esDESiGN and the producer and host of H+TV online. Her research concerns the design aesthetics of human enhancement and radical life extension, with a focus on emerging and speculative sciences and technologies. Her conceptual future human design “Primo Posthuman” has been featured in Wired, Harper’s Bazaar, Marie Claire, The New York Times, U.S. News & World Report, Net Business, Teleopolis, and Village Voice. She has appeared in over twenty-four televised documentaries on the future and culture, and has exhibited media artworks at National Centre for Contemporary Arts, Brooks Memorial Museum, Institute of Contemporary Art, Women In Video, Telluride Film Festival, and United States Film Festival and recently “Evolution Haute Couture: Art and Science in the Post-Biological Age” and is the recipient of several awards: First Place Award at Brooks Memorial Museum, Special Recognition at Women in Video, and special recognition for “Futures Podcast Series”.

Dr. Vita-More is a proponent of human rights and ethical means for human enhancement, and is published in Artifact, Technoetic Arts, Nanotechnology Perceptions, Sistemi Intelligenti, Metaverse Creativity, D’ARS, and the Global Spiral. She is co-editor of the forthcoming book The Transhumanist Reader: Classical and Contemporary Essays on the Science, Technology and Philosophy of the Human Future (Wiley-Blackwell 2013).

  • CM Stewart

    Congratulations, Dr. Vita-More, and thank you for the transhumanism book recommendations!

    My favorite quote: “There’s little room for dogma, because we constantly have to be re-educating ourselves.” -Dr. Vita-More

    We must accept and embrace the possibility of rejecting our most cherished beliefs. When beliefs limit positive change, those beliefs must be jettisoned.

  • http://www.singularityweblog.com/ Socrates

    As always, you are catching stuff that I missed Cynthia. Great quote to note! Thanks!!!

  • CM Stewart

    You’re welcome! It’s accidental teamwork! ;)

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  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Nikki-Olson/100001501516057 Nikki Olson

    What an enjoyable interview!

  • Matthew Bailey

    It is unfortunate that more people do not heed the quote you have posted.

    It is also unfortunate that one of the most high-profile groups associated with Transhumanism: The Singularity Institute, seems to be well stalked with people who are overflowing with dogma regarding transhumanism, and are some of the loudest proponents of the Frankenstein Complex (AI is gonna kill us all!).

  • http://twitter.com/MichaelN_RS RetiremntSingularity

    Very helpful dialogue, thanks Natasha and Nikola!
    Wondering how we can get a look at Natasha’s dissertation?
    Michael
    p.s. re Frankenstein and singularity, I did an article on this at http://goo.gl/DuCDj

  • http://www.singularityweblog.com/ Socrates

    Hi Michael, nice article!…

    I will ask Natasha about her dissertation. Cheers!

  • http://www.singularityweblog.com/ Socrates

    Hi Michael, nice article!…
    Here is a link to Natasha’s PhD dissertation: http://www.natasha.cc/phd_dissertation.htm

  • http://www.singularityweblog.com/ Socrates

    Very happy you enjoyed it as much as I did Nikki!

  • http://twitter.com/theFermiParadox thefermiparadox

    Great interview. We could use more women in the transhuman singularity community.

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  • http://www.facebook.com/Michael.J.Pannell Michael Pannell

    Is there any news on the ‘Transhuman Reader’, I thought from the podcast commentary that this was actually released as opposed to a work in progress?

  • http://www.singularityweblog.com/ Socrates

    Hi Michael, if I remember correctly it is supposed to be published in 2013…

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  • http://www.facebook.com/staceytayloraz Stacey Taylor

    Listening now (friggin love this site ;p) – first became aware of Dr Vita-More from Technocalyps doc (love that) and the whole idea of designer bodies was inspiring and helped shape my interest to a more creative bent than the sterility of ai and robotics and cyborgs.

    Until I stumbled over the whole concept, whenever I’d see anyone missing a limb, I felt sick, pity and discomfort, and felt so bad for them…and held a fear that if I ever lost something I’d probably just cave and never leave the house.

    Seeing the technological advances and 3D printed prosthetics, bionics, now when I see some of the patients who’ve had these options, it’s refreshing. Exciting. And in some ways I envy them because how cool is that to have designer body parts or the ability to sprint 10x faster than you could otherwise – so it paved the way for a more natural acceptance and embrace of H+ all the way.

    Bravo, great interview!

  • http://www.singularityweblog.com/ Socrates

    Very happy you are enjoying both this interview and Singularity Weblog so much Stacey! There are about another 100 interviews like this one. Here is the full list:

    http://www.singularitysymposium.com/singularity-podcast.html

    Welcome!!!

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  • http://www.facebook.com/staceytayloraz Stacey Taylor

    Thanks :)

    So in other words, what you’re saying is I’ll never manage to get finished with the site now :P

  • http://www.singularityweblog.com/ Socrates

    You’ve got it! ;-)

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